How 'The Diggers' Military Tribute Album Was Saved by Australian Rules Football
How 'The Diggers' Military Tribute Album Was Saved by Australian Rules Football

Charity fundraising album "The Diggers" has been given the go-ahead after the Australian Army called a truce with Warner Music over the project's disputed title.

Warner Music had lined-up the album as tribute to defense force personnel, with three service soldiers - two Australians and one New Zealander - performing the works. Its release was to coincide with the April 25 Anzac Day, the national day of remembrance for the country's fallen servicemen and women.

As previously reported, the Army had pulled rank on the project at the 11th hour, taking issue with the use of the name "Digger," a colloquial expression which has its origins in the First World War's trench battlefields where many Australian and New Zealand soldiers fought and lost their lives.

Though "digger" is an affectionate term Down Under, the army is protective of the use of its use in a commercial sense.

This week, both parties have resolved their differences. And the sport of Australian Rules Football has played a big hand in the process.

The Army and Warner Music Australia returned to the table when news got out that the Diggers trio would perform a one-off show at the ANZAC Day Australian Football League (AFL) game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

"The AFL and the ANZAC day celebration match provided the energy that led us to re-enter talks with the Army," comments Warner Music Australia Managing Director, Tony Harlow in a statement. "It soon became clear that everyone wanted this to happen and was prepared to work together," Harlow adds.

In the statement, the music major said it had resolved the "complex trademark issue" with the Army, ensuring that the "Diggers" name "remains in the public domain, honouring not only the name, but the important legacy it represents."

Harlow went on to apologize for "the misrepresentation of the situation in recent national press," and the music major has committed in a "good faith" gesture to make a sizeable up-front donation to Legacy, a support organization for Australian defense force families. Warner Music said it would also increase the ongoing amount of royalties it would provide on every album sold. Financial figures were not disclosed.

A Defense spokesperson said that the Army was fully backing the project. "The Australian Army and Legacy have a longstanding relationship and a strong history of mutual support," the spokesperson said. "We are hopeful that the project will be successful and that the Australian public will get behind the initiative."

The 14-track project is based on the multi-platinum 2009 U.K. project, "The Soldiers" (Warner Bros), which raised almost a £1 million ($1.6 million) for charities, and was to enlist the services of its UK production team, Chegwin Patrick Productions.

The "Diggers" will perform the song "Coming Home" at the 100,000 capacity MCG on April 25, and the track will be available for purchase on that day from fundraising site www.legacy.com.au/TheDiggersAU <http://www.legacy.com.au/TheDiggersAU> . A release date on the album has not been confirmed.

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